The one time Led Zeppelin frontman returns with the strongest album he’s recorded in several years. More eclectic than than the Americana of his previous record, 2010′s “Band of Joy”, it’s a blend of English rock and folk with African and Middle Eastern sounds, and even the occasional blast of hard rock guitar. While this is familiar sonic territory for Plant, this album has more fire than his last couple of albums.
Backed by a talented six-piece band The Sensational Shape Shifters, Plant is on fine form vocally. There’s also a brief but spellbinding guest vocal from Julie Murphy on album standout “Embrace Another Fall”. It’s all a long way from the swaggering blues-rock of his early career, but like much of his recent output it’s music that suits an artist in his 60s rather than his 20s. There are still a few reminders of days past, such as the electric piano on another album highlight, “Up on the Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)” recalling “No Quarter”. While other veteran major-league acts like U2 and The Rolling Stones have been on auto-pilot for years, at 66 years of age Robert Plant has still got something to say.